What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
There are two major types of keyboards that are categorized based on their switch technology. The most common one is the membrane keyboard and the less popular one is the mechanical keyboard. The membrane keyboard is the keyboard that most people use today. It is the commercialized version of the keyboard and it makes use of a rubber keys to register the presses. The concept of membrane keyboards is also behind that of phones, handheld controllers, and other laptop keyboards.
A mechanical keyboard, on the other hand, is a type of keyboard that uses plastic key switches to register the presses of each keycap. If you remember the keyboards of the ’80s, then this is a good representation of a mechanical keyboard.
How Does a Mechanical Keyboard Work?
A mechanical keyboard works by having a plastic switch underneath. When you press a key halfway down, the switch reacts and sends a signal to the computer on which key you have pressed. Because keys are just pressed halfway down, mechanical keyboards allow pressing a number of keys simultaneously without having an effect on the reception of the computer.
Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards
If you think about it, mechanical keyboards don’t have a lot of difference with the membrane counterparts. If that’s the case, then why do you have to switch to a more expensive and harder to acquire computer equipment? To understand why mechanical keyboards are even a thing, here are some advantages.
Compared to membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards can withstand 50 million presses without getting wobbly. Because it uses plastic switches than rubber ones, the wear and tear of these switches will be very minimal over time. If you are the type of person who presses long and hard on the keys, then you might have experienced conventional keyboard keys starting to wobble. That’s not the case for mechanical keyboards.
If you’re a gamer, speed is a necessity. Since you won’t need to press all the way down for a signal to be transmitted to your computer, then you only need half the time it takes. This means you can easily switch to another key in half the time as well. Imagine how different your gameplay would be if you are able to react immediately to what is happening on the screen.
Obviously, rubber switches are a lot harder to maintain than plastic ones. Wherever you go, plastic is easily cleaned and you don’t need special tools for it. Besides, plastic is relatively dust-free. On the other hand, rubber switches easily acquire dust and when dust sticks to it, it is hard to remove. In most cases, you have to replace the rubber for it to function properly.
Another reason why mechanical keyboards are easy to maintain is that you can easily remove the plastic switches.
Unlike membrane keyboards that only make you choose from either silicon or rubber, mechanical keyboards allow you to be more creative with your switches and keycaps. If you’ve seen colorful keyboards, then they are most likely mechanical ones. Plus, you can choose from different kinds of plastic switches that cater to your typing preference.
And finally, the experience. If you’re after speed, feel, and comfortability, then the mechanical keyboards trumps the membrane keyboard any day. You can have softer presses but without having to compromise the time for the switch to send the signal to the computer. What’s even more amazing is that you can press a number of keys simultaneously (also called rollover). If you have an n-rollover keyboard, then this means you can press an n amount of keys at the same time. For gamers, this is definitely a must-have.
The only things that prevent people from switching to a mechanical keyboard are the price and the sound level. Of course, all these advantages come at price, and most of the time they are not affordable. The price even goes up if you want to customize it to your own preferences. Plus, the sound level of a mechanical keyboard is quite high. Some people find this disturbing, while others find this a good sound to the ears.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Gaming?
With so many good traits of the mechanical keyboard, people wonder if it really does make a difference in the whole gaming experience. Experts and gamers alike will tell you that it does for the reasons that were mentioned above. But that’s not all.
Another important trait of a gaming keyboard is accuracy. A membrane keyboard is prone to slips which then causes typos or wrong actions in a game. This is especially evident for membrane keyboards that are damaged or way over their useful life. If the rubber switches are worn out, the keys tend to be wobblier. Add to that the fact that rubber accumulates more dust quickly which makes it even harder to make accurate presses. As a gamer, you want to be able to have switches that are not prone to slips so that you lessen the mistakes you make while you play.
Overall, mechanical keyboards definitely improve the gaming experience. They offer a long-lasting keyboard that only requires light presses to avoid typos and mistakes. In the long run, this will help your game performance and your game ranking. If you are starting out in the computer gaming hobby, you can choose to use a membrane keyboard and slowly work your way to buying a mechanical keyboard. Sure, it’s expensive, but you can think of it as an investment for increasing your game winnings and popularity.